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Pieces of Eight

Staff at East Carolina University’s Telemedicine Center help children from the N.C. School for the Deaf in Wilson interact with Santa and Mrs. Claus each year, using facilities and equipment in place for telemedicine. In the role of Santa and Mrs. Claus are Betty and Wayne Pollard of Greenville. (Contributed photo)

ECU Community Finds Many Ways to Brighten Holidays

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

From campus-wide food and gift drives to live visits from Santa from the North Pole, faculty, staff and students from East Carolina University are delivering holiday cheer across the region and beyond.

More than a dozen efforts are underway on campus this month to collect items for those in need, but few endeavors are offering children a direct line to Santa Claus himself.

Working with the N.C. School for the Deaf in Wilson, the staff from ECU’s Telemedicine Center has delivered holiday cheer to the students since 2000. Every year, the children visit their campus’ telehealth studio and “meet” Santa and Mrs. Claus in the North Pole, using each facility’s equipment.

The children tell Santa what’s on their holiday wish list, and the staff of ECU’s Telemedicine Center are in the wings, making the list, and checking it twice, and they deliver it to Wilson in time for Christmas, said Gloria Jones, the center’s clinical operations manager.

“It gives us a chance to give back, and for the children to use the technology for something other than being sick,” Jones said.

This year, faculty and staff members from Laupus Library have joined the ECU Telemedicine Center to collect items for the children.

Other departments across campus are busy as well, “adopting” needy families and children, collecting food for local pantries, and collecting toys and clothes.

• One of the major drives is operated by ECU’s Business Services. Through Dec. 14, ECU Business Services is collecting donations of food, gifts, clothing, for its 13th Annual ECU Holiday Drive. The items will be distributed to several area agencies including the REAL Crisis Center; New Directions Family Violence Shelter; the Flynn Christian Home; Pitt County Adult Services Christmas Fund; Pitt County Social Services Children’s Protective Services Unit; the N.C. Food Bank; and the Ronald McDonald House. Contact: Leslie Craigle, 737-1310,, or visit

• ECU’s Student Health is collecting food items for area food banks through mid-December. ECU employees may drop off canned and non-perishable food items to the pharmacy area at the Student Health Center. Contact: Greg Morris, 328-6793,

• ECU’s radio station, WZMB 91.3 FM is holding a food and teddy bear drive through Dec. 6 to benefit the TEDI BEAR Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenville. Drop off items to WZMB, in the basement of Mendenhall Student Center. Contact: Terrence Dove, (252)328-4707,

• The ECU Marching Pirates have just completed a food drive (see p. 6).

• The ECU Volunteer and Service-Learning Center is sponsoring a 100,000-pound food collection.

• Student groups across campus have been participating in Operation Christmas Child; have made greetings cards for overseas troops; collecting items for the annual Toys for Tots campaign; and operating food drives for the Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina.

This page originally appeared in the Dec. 7, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at